Sunday, October 31, 2021

happy halloween!


hand shandy.




So it's here!

The final day of this years 31 Days of Horror spooktacular!

And which film is worthy of finishing it off?

Well it was going to be Black Candles* as someone had emailed me to see if I'd ever reviewed it, I took a quick look thru' the archives - tho' why they couldn't search for it I've no idea....what is this a library? -  and bizarrely this popped up instead.

Checking it seems that only 3 folk have ever read the review which is sad really.

Or a sign of good taste.

Who knows?

But the thing that clinched it for me it reminded me of the time I got asked to contribute to a comic book sequel.

This never came to fruition (or maybe it did and my work was deemed too shit to include - it happens) as an added treat I thought I'd share some of the work here.


Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Dir: Harold P. Warren.
Cast: Tom Neyman, John Reynolds, Diane Mahree, Harold P. Warren, Stephanie Nielson, Sherry Proctor, Robin Redd, Jackey Neyman, Bernie Rosenblum, Joyce Molleur and William Bryan Jennings.

"Manos, God of primal darkness. As thou has decreed so have I done. The hands of fate have doomed this man. Thy will is done".

The somewhat sickening Felcher family; dad Michael (writer, director, actor, spy, salesman and inventor Warren), mum Margaret (Mahree - bless you), Hellish girl child Debbie (Curse of Bigfoot star and only person to be paid for the movie, Neyman) and the family dog, Peppy are heading for a well deserved (if arse-numbingly dubbed) holiday at Butlins in Skegness.

So far so so.

Luck (and let's be honest looks) obviously aren't on their side tho', as not only are they stopped by the police due to a cracked tail-light but also get lost somewhere near the A1 turn off to Smethwick.

Smethwick, twinned with your gran.

Bored, cold and tired, Michael and his family decide to pull over at a the first house they come across to ask directions.

But being Smethwick, there aren't any houses as we know them, just a few broken down sheds and a burnt out Burger king.

Oh and a car on bricks with the words 'GRASS' sprayed down the side in excrement.

Finally, just as their hope of finding any signs of civilization is fading the family reach a rickety old house looked after by a big hatted, bow legged backward arsed butler named Torgo (Reynolds, allegedly wearing a home-made bondage suit to aid his performance), who, as it happens is house-sitting for "The Master" (no not that one) whilst he's away on business.

Togo: He's got something to put in you.

Repulsed yet oh so slightly aroused by the smell of boiled onions permeating thru' Togo's beard, Michael and Margaret ask him for directions to Butlins; Torgo simply (and stiffly) replies that "There's no way out of here....It'll be dark soon...." 


Michael, totally nonplussed by the terrifying Torgo and his trampy beard demands that he and his family be allowed to stay the night and orders Torgo to fetch their belongings from the car.

Being a woman Margaret's concerns go unheard by her husband who's too busy booting Torgo up the arse as he attempts to balance a variety of cases on his hips.

Once inside, the family are disturbed to see that there are not only a distinct lack of carpets but that the walls are crammed full of pound shop voodoo shite with a child’s finger painting of a dark eyed, grey skinned moustachioed man and his anorexic greyhound as a stunning centrepiece.

The man it depicts is The Master.

The dog, well that's just a dog.

I've spunked prettier things.

When an amusingly scratched sound effect of a wolf howling puts the willies up poor Margaret and sends lil' Peppy running outside, macho Michael decides to investigate.

Grabbing a flashlight - tho' a fleshlight would probably be more appropriate for a pile of wank this big - and revolver from his car he wanders around in the dark (making sure not to step off the set obviously) before finding Peppy, by now cunningly played by an old coat lying dead in the desert dust.

Back at the house Torgo is busying (and arousing) himself by rubbing his legs and attempting to stroke Margaret's hair as he admits undying love for her, warning our moaning faced MiLF that she is doomed to become a bride of The Master, tho' Torgo wants her for himself.

 Dirty boy.

Obviously offended at only being able to pull square faced bores and bandy legged bums Margaret threatens to tell Michael about Torgo's frankly ludicrous seduction attempts but our bearded buddy convinces her to stay quiet by promising to protect her from stuff.

Look the script isn't that specific so why should I be?

Luckily for all concerned Michael re-enters the scene at this point with some bad news.

And it's not that the film is almost over.

It seems that on his travels he's discovered that not only is the dog dead but the car has broken down and little Debbie has wandered off.

Good news tho' is that the local Tapas bar still has tables available.

Unfortunately there isn't a phone in the house to ring for a reservation so with great reluctance the family decide to stay the night, if only to find out where Debbie has gone.

 Which is nice.

Tunnel or funnel?

Worry not dear readers, Debbie is only outside playing with the devilish greyhound from the painting.

Let's be honest tho' it's not like anyone would've abducted her anyway seeing as she has a face that would make a horse sick, I mean any pervy pedo that could maintain anything remotely like an erection around her would deserve a medal.

But I digress.

Unlike the director obviously who seems to be under the impression that the film doesn't have enough stilted, dialogue free scenes of badly made up (and in some cases just plain ugly) actors staring at each other for no reason than to highlight the many continuity mistakes on show.

Make it stop.

Or at least get a wee bit interesting.


Debbie: Not even With Jonathan King's.

Which after what seems like an eternity it actually does with the arrival of The Master himself (Neyman, unfortunate father of the fearful she-child Jackey, actual owner of the featured greyhound and the man who painted the portrait mentioned many jobs so little talent) who is first seen sleeping in a barn surrounded by several ex-strippers clad in translucent dresses and oversized girdles.

Without warning Torgo ties Michael to a handy pole as The Master and his many 'wives' suddenly spring to life before indulging in a short (yet downright bizarre) argument over what to do with the Felcher family.

Is it just me or would you assume that a secret polygamous devil cult would already have contingency plans in place for such an event?

Batman: the mooth shite-in years.

Anyway, The Master (still not that one) after a wee pause decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife Mavis to the evil God of facial hair (and hands) Manos before taking Margaret and (ye gods no) Debbie as his new wives.

With this decision The Master makes his farewells and heads off for a power shower and a poo, leaving his wives to engage in some impromptu wrestling.

Phwoar! Wahey! etc.

Upon his return and using a potent post poo hypnotic spell The Master stops the fight before ordering his minions (not those ones) to tie Mavis to the pole in order to be sacrificed whilst Torgo awaits his fate from a handy stone bed.

And what a fate it is, as the remaining wives jump on the poor sod and pretend to eat him before The Master, using his mysterious hairy lipped powers severs Torgo's hand before setting fire to it.

Or at least to a crudely made wax replica.

Torgo, hoping to still be around for the planned sequel (seriously) escapes into the darkness, waving his burning stump as he goes whilst The Master laughs uncomfortably as he sinisterly approaches his first wife.

Whilst all this burning, blundering and back stabbing is going down, Michael and family have managed to barricade themselves into the pantry in the hope of either hiding till morning or that The Master might get bored.

But alas, The Master is a, um, past master at hide and seek (and from what I've heard the double entry) and he's soon looming over the family, a tin of peaches in one hand and a corncob in the other confronting Michael.

Being a true American tho' Michael has no time (or concept of) conversation and promptly empties his weapon into The Master's face at point-blank range but alas to no avail.

The screen fades to black.

The viewer loses the will to live.

And bladder control.

Jamiroquai, up the casino, Tenby, 1997....Yesch!

Time passes and much, much later two more travelers arrive at the house to be greeted by Michael, clad in Torgo's shit stained suit and 'kiss me quick' hat.

Her turns to camera and says - well someone does and from the dubbing it ain't him - "I take care of the place while the Master is away."

And so it goes.

Let us, dear reader, travel back in time to the mid 60's and to El Paso, Texas, where Hal Warren, manager of the American Founder's Life Insurance Co. came across (tho' not in a sexual way) famed screenwriter Stirling (In the Heat of the Night, The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, Shaft in Africa and The Swarm amongst others) Silliphant, who was visiting the town to scout out film locations.

After several meetings (and even more booze), Warren decided that this movie making lark seemed a piece of piss and after a few more drinks reckoned he could do as good a job himself.

Within a week he had a script (The Lodge of Sins), a few boyscouts to be his crew and the local theatre group, alongside and a few 'hand' models to be his cast.

Armed with a third hand 16mm Bell and Howell silent camera, a garden shed, some Hula Hoops and 60 Woodbines a legend was born.

The 16mm Bell & Howell silent camera: Witness to more porn and real life atrocities than your granddad during the war.

Shot within 4 hours, edited in 2 and dubbed over a quiet Bank Holiday weekend, Manos (as it was now known) premiered at the El Paso Odeon on 15 November 1966 to non-stop audience laughter and howls of derision that prompted a shell shocked cast and crew to escape from the cinema via underground tunnels dug during the interval.

A chilling footnote to this is that the cleaning woman who's job it was to bin the Coke cups and burrito packets after the show discovered that the audience had laughed so much that over 13000 gallons of piss had been unwittingly released into the main auditorium causing the cinema to collapse killing 47 people and spraying urine into the local fields, killing farmer Morton J Blithe's prized heard of bullocks as well as his lame son, 12 year old Morton Jnr, who was found drowned in a gully 2 weeks later.

Lying on it's back stinking of piss....and no it's not your mum surprisingly.

But forget the tales of deaths, suicide and heartache for a moment and just concentrate on the movie then ask yourself; Is it really the worst movie ever made or some proto-Lynchian work of subgenius trading on mans darkest fears as witnessed thru' the prism of Barthesian semiotics?

I mean you have to admit that certain aspects of the film invoke both intertextuality and Bertolt Brecht's theories of estrangement to explore the metafictional or parodic aspects of the idea of polygamy (or polygyny as is truer the case here).


Diane Mahree: Barthesian semiotics or terrifying tit wank?

And to all those naysayers, yes the editing is abysmal, the myriad of continuity flaws are an abomination to modern cinema and yes the soundtrack and visuals are so out of synchronization as to lead us to believe that they are being beamed from different parts of the world.

But surely, a friend of mine once asked of Manos; if viewing the film thru' the lens of intertextuality, taking onboard Freud's idea that the repression of fear and desire is the main cause of 'dream work' then the film's seriously tedious pacing, frankly terrifying non acting and  inexplicable inclusion of scenes and characters either disconnected or totally redundant from the actual plot begins to make sense.

Or does it?

Manos: The Hands of Fate: good shit or bad shit?

Who really cares tho' because when you get around to it a shit is still a shit and either way it's still gonna stink your house out.

Which, if I'm honest is fairly profound for this blog.

Be seeing you.

*I've been informed by my solicitors to add that I did in fact receive a phone call this week from longtime reader Dissolved Paul informing me not to bother as it was utter shite.

As is the blog in general.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

rowdy mole.

Had an email yesterday pointing out that there was far too little John Agar in this years 31 Days of Horror countdown.

Which is fair enough.


The Mole People (1956).
Dir: Virgil W. Vogel.
Cast:  John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Alan Napier, Nestor Paiva, Phil Chambers, Rodd Redwing, Robin Hughes and Dr Frank Baxter.

"Archeologists are the underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty."

Let's be honest, any film that opens with a video essay from the late, great American TV personality, educator and former professor of English at the University of Southern California Dr. Frank Baxter, has to be worth a look.

As regular readers (just regular readers in general, not of this blog obviously) will already know, Baxter was famous for his appearances as "Dr. Research" in the Bell System Science Series of television specials that ran from 1956–1962 becoming a staple of American classrooms right thru' to the 80s.

Which kinda explains a lot if you think about it.

With Baxter acting as a genial and affable host, the specials combined scientific footage, live action and animation to explain complicated concepts (like space travel, radiation and why you shouldn't elected tangerines to the office of President) in a lively, entertaining and simple way and to thousands of Americans young and old these programmes became the 'go to' for all science minded folk, making a star of its trusted host.

So when Baxter rocks up in the prologue to the film chatting about various hollow Earth myths and theories you have to sit up and listen, for what follows must be true.

And so must the film we're about to see.


Patrick Stewart shooting hoops with one of Mark Shannon's genital warts yesterday.

After what seems like hours of flipcharts and children's drawings we're into the movie good and proper with a title card that informs us that we're in Asia, although to be honest it looks like Egypt from the stock footage tho' the painted backdrops features snow covered mountains so we could actually be anywhere.

I'm going for South Wales.

Anyway, geography aside it's time to meet our heroes for the next 70 odd minutes and they are the dashing  Dr. Wes Bentley (Rhythm Ace and former Mr Shirley Temple, Agar) and the slightly less dashing  Dr. Paul Stuart (Chambers) who are busily digging up bits of stone whilst attempting to look intelligent.

And interested.

Suddenly one of the local workers appears with a stone tablet which Stuart notices is engraved in a language "not of these parts".

Bentley excitedly grabs the ancient artifact and, after blowing the dust away (which makes a change from blowing his agent for roles) announces that the text is Sumerian and tells the tale of a city that disappeared from the face from the Earth.

And with that the camera starts to shake whilst the actors pretend to be slightly concerned as the stone tablet falls to the ground and smashes into pieces.

Bloody hell how exciting is this?

"Is it in yet?"

As a new day breaks (fuck they're clumsy) Bentley and Stuart decide a conference is in order so invite Doctors Jud Bellamin (Beaumont) and Geordi Lafarge (Paiva) over for beer, crisps and a quick chat regarding the broken tabley before rounding the day off with a quick game of soggy biscuit.

LaFarge, as ever, wins.

As they're cleaning up a wee native boy approaches them carrying a bit of market tat cunningly disguised as an ancient artifact whilst motioning toward a crudely painted mountain.
"The mountain was the epicenter of the earthquake!" exclaims Dr. Stuart and with that our fabulous foursome decide to go and explore it.

Cue endless stock footage of snow-covered mountain climbing which I'm pretty sure is exactly the same as the stuff used in The Abominable Snowman.

No really, I'm gonna cut it all together and upload it so you can see for yourselves.


After what seems like days of scratchy out of focus snow trudging our merry band finally arrive at the ruins of a Sumerian temple, cunningly disguised a an old set left over from a local pantomime, where Bentley is excited (some would say too excited) to find an old shop window dummy head lying in a pile of polystyrene snow.

"It's the goddess Ishtar!" he exclaims!

And as he does poor Dr. Stuart steps on a cracked bit of concrete and falls thru' a hole into a deep, dark chasm.

Obviously he has the team wallet as Bentley a co. decide to climb after him, giving the viewer the exciting prospect of watching the cast carefully tie ropes, hammer hooks into walls and slide down a spooky shaft all very, very slowly.

Seriously the scene seems to go on for days, the only relief being a long lingering shot of Hugh Beaumont gently easing a rope between his thighs.

One tearful wank and cold shower later and the group are finally at the bottom - tho' not rock bottom, not yet - and crouched over Stuart's corpse, riffling thru' his pockets for photos of his wife in the nude.

The sheer excitement of seeing something so hot raises the temperature in the cave causing the shaft to collapse leaving Bentley, Bellamin and Lafarge no other choice but to press on ever deeper into the dark tunnel ahead.

But as they do a sinister pair of clawed hands appear in the dirt behind them.

That's your Nan that is.

After much walking and waving a torch around he tunnel eventually opens into an underground cavern housing an entire city.

Or at least a painted approximation of one.

Which would probably be OK if the matte artist in question hadn't decided to illustrate the whole thing in really thick Sharpie.

You drew this.

Deciding that they've had enough adventuring for one day the tired time team lie down on the cavern floor to get some sleep.

As you do.

As the trio snore and fart away their troubles a group of the mysterious Mole People (I'm assuming) begins to dig their way up from the under the ground, popping canvas sacks over the shocked archeologists’ heads and dragging them kicking and screaming underground.

Tho' seeing as they're already underground surely that should be underground the underground?

Or more undergrounder?

John Agar is coming for tea? Aaah Lovely!

Waking in a makeshift dungeon resplendent with creepy cobwebs and hanging Halloween style skeleton decorations, Bentley, Bellamin and Lafarge sit around twiddling their thumbs and spouty psuedo-science bollocks till a wall opens and they're motioned to walk forward by a couple of visibly embarrassed extras covered in greasepaint and decked out in children's nativity costumes carrying plastic swords.

Sorry, I meant to type they're motioned to walk forward by a couple of scary  Sumerian warriors.

My bad.

The archeologists are escorted to an ancient - is there any other kind? -  Sumerian temple where a mysterious ceremony, which seems to involve Elinu, the high priest (Alfred the butler himself, Napier looking visibly embarrassed even under a 6 inch layer of white face) shaking a giant cardboard Star Trek badge at a group of 'sexy' dancers, is taking place.

It appears that this is the dance of Ishtar.

Fair enough.

Concluding the ceremony Elinu approaches King Rollo (you can tell he's the king because he appears to be wearing a cardboard hedgehog on his head) and announces that there are 'intruders among them!"

Tho' to be honest from the look of them I'd be less worried about intruders and more concerned about latent arse banditry.

The fucking state of this.

Eyeing them up (and down) with a suspicious gaze the King stands erect and regal before pronouncing that the archeologists are to be put to death via the "Fire of Ishtar" so Bentley and Bellamin, not waiting to wait to find out what this entails,  punches the guards and steals their swords before fleeing into a convenient tunnel with resident oldster Lafarge lagging behind.

As the guards draw ever closer the poor old guy falls to the ground calling on his buddies for help and when Bentley hears Lafarge’s calls he spins around, shining his flashlight into the faces of their pursuers which not only temporarily blinds them but scares them into submission as they shout about Ishtar's light.

Bizarrely tho' the torch isn't actually as bright as the  lights in the city they live in.

Maybe it's actually circles that they're scared of.

Or it might just be shit film-making.

Who knows?

Leaving Lafarge leaning against a cardboard wall (he's tired the poor lamb), Bentley and Bellamin continue to explore the cave eventually reaching the slave quarters where the skirted Sumarian guards spend their days whipping the poor Mole People for some reason or another.

Realizing that nothing exciting has happened for a few minutes one of the mole folk attacks the archeologists and attacks them, alerting the Sumarian guards to their presence.

Cue more pointless running around in the dark till  Lafarge is killed by one of the beasts due to the torch jamming.

No really.

The surviving pair just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Confession time: This scene gave me strange feelings in my tummy as a child.

As the pair continue into the cave system who should pop out from behind a wall but the high priest, it seems that the king has changed his mind about the strangers and wants to invite them around for tea to say sorry.

Sounds legit.

All that hot torch action has convinced the king that the archeologists are actually holy messengers rather than B-movie actors trying to earn a buck and to this end he's organised a party for them that includes fizzy pop, music and scantily clad maidens serving paper plates full of mushrooms.

Standing out from the sexy slaves tho' is the wistful Adele (Patrick strangely credited as Adad in the titles) who is constantly beaten and abuse because unlike everyone else she has normal skin colour and blonde hair.

Obviously she will become Bentley love interest for the remainder of the film.

Meanwhile, whilst all this scoffin' 'n' romancin' is going down the high priest is busily plotting behind the scenes to overthrow the king.

It's almost like that after so many boring scenes of endless cave wanderings and climbing that the writer has decided that what the film needs is an actual plot.

Unfortunately rather than anything remotely involving action this involves lots of forgettable characters in silly hats sitting around talking about stuff.

Case in point as to achieve control of the city the priest sits on a garden chair and slowly orders his co-conspirators to steal Bentley's torch.

The king however has other ideas and demands that Bentley and Bellamin use the magic fire to control the mole people and stop their plans to take over the city.

Bentley however is more interested in Adele and her skills at playing the banjo.

No really.

They look how I feel.

Anyway, more stuff happens, a few mole people get whipped and Bentley continues to gaze wistfully at Adele whilst all the time him and Bellamin are fed mushrooms by sexy albino chicks like the gods they've been mistaken for.

But the film is almost over so it's time to ramp up the action.

Or at least have the priest come across (who are we to judge? it might be a religious thing) LaFarge's corpse proving that our heroes are just mere mortals and deserve to die.

But first there's just time for a fucking terribly choreographed dance routine to accompany three 'sexy' maidens who, one by one disrobe and enter the sunlit room thru' a huge cardboard door and into Ishtar's Flame.
Yup that's right, the high priest is effectively threatening our heroes with death by sunroof.

I mean what if it's raining?

Or cloudy?

Or nighttime?

What your Mum, Nan and Auntie Jean get up to when they say they're at bingo.

Well the guards - after a few minutes waiting - go and retrieve the now burnt remains so their must be a scientific reason for it working.

Oh that's right, Bentley explains that because they've lived underground sunlight is deadly to them.

Well that's OK then.

Anyway some more stuff happens* that leads to Bentley and co. starting a mole man revolution that culminates in the titular beasts attacking the city.

Having stolen the torch the king waves it frantically at the mole men but the batteries are dead which allows the beasts to murder everyone in cold blood, opening the doors to fry the survivors in the blazing sunlight.

Which isn't at all extreme.

Luckily Adele - being a freak with normal skin - is immune to the sun and survives.

With the palace littered in corpses and drenched in blood Bentley, Bellamin and Adele leave the city via Ishtar's flame and climb up the rock face to freedom.

Your sister's wedding night.

"It’s warm…and beautiful," Adele exclaims as she limbs out of the hole and onto the studio set.

Bentley gazes at her lustfully and laughs.

For those of you who think they know how films of this ilk end the makers of The Mole People have an ace up their sleeve.

Or more accurately no idea what constitutes a satisfying ending because 
suddenly as the trio start their journey down the mountain to home an earthquake rocks the mountain causing  Adele to be crushed by a falling stone pillar.

No, really.

Amazingly for a film with such a short running time The Mole People seems to go on forever. 'Directed' (and I use that term in it's loosest possible sense) by Virgil Vogel - the man behind such classics as Space Invasion of Lapland and The Kettles on Old MacDonald's Farm - and 'starring' lug-headed 50s sci-fi icon (as in he was cheap) John (Zontar the Thing from Venus, Attack of the Puppet People, The Brain from Planet Arous, Women of the Prehistoric Planet - top quality one and all) Agar, The Mole People is the cinematic equivalent of a really unsatisfying toilet trip, you know what I mean - you settle down, trousers round your ankles with a good book ready to let slip the (poo) dogs of war and then nothing.

Just painful pushing and grunting followed by a wet fart (if your lucky) 25 minutes later and culminating in a streaky stain on the bowl glistening sadly in the harsh light of the naked bulb.

Just me then?

See that? That's  your film that is.  


Ploddingly paced, stiffly acted (if you can call it acted) and as engaging as watching someone nail bent nails into an old piece of wood - which if anything would be a better use of it's cast - The Mole People is so inexcusably horrendous that its only redeeming feature and the only interesting thing about it is the fact that footage from it was reused in a film ever more shite than this one, Jerry Warren's 1966 shitfest The Wild World of Batwoman.

A film so arse-numbingly bad that it even managed to steal the non-sexy bits from a Swedish porn film.**


Unless you have trouble sleeping that is.

Not even with your Dad's.

*All of which is frankly way too boring to even consider typing, tho' it does involve poisoned mushrooms, beast beating and (even) more vaguely erotic dancing whilst John Agar looks on with that smug, punchable expression on his face.

Agar: Punchable.

**In certain establishing shots there's a sign reading "Livsmedel", the Swedish word for grocery store.

Friday, October 29, 2021

looney tunes.

Almost at the end of the whole 31 Days of Horror thing and realised I'd yet to feature a spooky portmanteau horror yet.

So here you go.

Asylum (AKA House of Crazies, 1972).
Dir: Roy Ward Baker.
Cast: Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Robert Powell, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse
Patrick Magee, Charlotte Rampling, Barbara Parkins, Ann Firbank, Sylvia Syms, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, John Franklyn-Robbins and Geoffrey Bayldon.

Working with the mentally disturbed... can lead to a breakdown. ”

The slight of hip and pretty of lip former boot maker Doctor Martin (onetime Jesus and father of Enoch -  Powell) has been invited to the famed Cleftpate asylum for an interview regarding the job of head of mentalism.

Which I've been told is an actual medical term and not something I randomly made up.

After acing the first round of questions and nailing the team-building exercise Martin's prospective boss Dr Paul Rutherford (screech-voiced 70s stalwart Magee, who appears to come with his own wheelchair, which probably saved Stan a few quid when they made A Clockwork Orange) has decided that in order to make sure he's the right man for the job he must take one more unusual test.

You see, it appears that Rutherford's associate, Dr Freddie Starr, has developed a dual personality after being hit on the head with a swingball during garden time and is now housed upstairs alongside all the 'proper' mentalists.

“If you can recognise who is - or was - Dr Starr, I’ll give you the job” announces Rutherford as Mark O'Toole plucks a funky bass-line in the background.

Barbara Parkins was unimpressed by the size of Richard Todd's chopper.

Making his way to the Wacky Wing - and admiring some badly drawn pictures showing the history of mental health along the way - he's soon greeted by the hospital's chief  orderly Max (Catweazle himself, Bayldon), who quickly introduces him to the first of the four patients he must interview in order to find the disturbed doc, a wild haired woman named Bonnie.

It seems that Bonnie (Valley of The Dolls star Parkins) was having a torrid affair (tho' not as torrid as his wallpaper it must be said) with a slick-haired, middle aged banker named Walter (Dambusters and Doctor Who star Todd), whose love for nipple revealing shirts and camp cravats is only matched by his hatred of his well to do wife Ruth (screen legend Sims, who's been in loads of stuff that I frankly can't be arsed typing).

When not busy reminding Walter that she's rich and that he'd be nothing without her Ruth keeps herself busy studying voodoo with “a black charlatan” (not Tim Burgess then) at the local community centre - as you do - and has decided that today's the day to show of her new magical bracelet to her husband.

Which is pretty bizarre seeing as today is also the day that Walter has decided to rid himself of Ruth once and for all.

As opposed to twice and for a bit obviously.

Your dads cum face - trust me I know.

And how does he plan to do this? I hear you cry.

Well by taking her down to the cellar to show her the new chest freezer he’s bought (from Glens, Hutchison. Robertson and Stepek no doubt) before surprising her with an axe to the face, then chopping her up, wrapping the body parts in brown paper and finally popping them in the aforementioned freezer - alongside the spooky voodoo bracelet obviously.

Everything seems to be going swimmingly but as Walter heads upstairs to pour himself (another) large brandy he notices that his wife's - still parcelled - severed head has followed him up the stairs.

Spooky biscuits.

Some time later Bonnie arrives at the house and noticing the smell of fresh gammon emanating from the cellar goes to investigate.

Slowly opening the freezer lid she's - fairly - shocked to find her beloved tucked in behind the carrots.

Which is nice.

As she turns to leave tho' Bonnie is confronted by the horrifying (well I say horrifying but I mean ludicrous) sight of Ruth's paper wrapped body parts trundling menacingly toward her.....

Doc Martin - not this one.

Back in the real life Dr Martin is convinced Bonnie was talking bollocks (as the medical professionals say) and hurries along to see the next patient, an elderly tailor named Bruno (Space: 1999s Professor Bergman himself, Morse) who spends his days sitting on a table pretending to sew trousers for celebrity game show contestants.
Cue a wibbly wobbly dissolve that that's us from the asylum to a dreary backlot at Shepperton where the aforementioned Bruno is struggling to keep his business afloat as his uncaring landlord Stubbins (Franklyn-Robbins who was in lots of really good stuff during his career but we know as the jester-hatted Timelord that sends The Doctor on his mission in Genesis of The Daleks) keeps turning up and demanding the rent.


Enter (gently after a long bout of sweet foreplay) the enigmatic Mr Smith (Cushing), who offers to pay Bruno a small fortune to make a special shiny suit for his son who, by the look of the material is about to start touring as a Nik Kershaw tribute act.

However, there are certain rules that Bruno must adhere to in order to get paid - he must only work on the suit after midnight and stop at dawn and he must do it whilst wearing his wife's underwear.*

“I happen to believe in astrology” exclaims Smith in the way of an explanation.

And with that he leaves the shop.

Sapphire and Steel investigate Brexit.

Starting work on the suit right away, as his wife Anne (Firbank - most famous around here for turning up at the end of The Rise of Skywalker to ask Rey who she is) dutifully brings him copious amounts of coffee and biscuits (Rich Tea, thanks for asking) he almost immediately breaks Smith's rules and carries on sewing after the deadline only to prick his finger on a needle - looking on in mild horror as the blood mysteriously disappears into the fabric.

Don't worry tho' as contrary to Smith's wishes this will have absolutely fuck all effect on the outfit.

Or the climax of the story.

Finishing the suit in record time he excitedly takes takes a cab to Smith's house, rubbing his knees with glee at the thought of all that lovely money but alas everything is not how it seems as Smith is actually totally skint - spending his fortune on the magic pattern book in order to bring his (very dead) son back to life.

This has actually happened to me with art commissions so I can totally understand why Bruno gets a wee bit annoyed and refuses to hand over the suit.

Smith counters this by pulling out a gun and screaming “Give me that suit!”at Bruno and a (very slow) struggle ensues climaxing in Smith accidentally shooting himself and Bruno (not accidentally) stealing the magic book.

As you would.

Nigel Mansell: He's got something to put in you.

Returning home Bruno explains the whole sorry situation to his wife before instructing her to burn both the suit and the book but Ann has other ideas and decides to dress Brian, the shop window dummy she chats to everyday (which is news to both us and her hubbie as it's never been mentioned before) in the smart new supernatural togs....

With absolutely no loin-stirring at the sight of Barry Morse's bouncy manboobs Dr Martin stands dejected, wondering if he should have just applied for a job at Wimpy Burgers instead but his spirits are soon lifted by the smell of sophistication and strawberries emanating from the next room, so with an added spring in his step he heads off to investigate the next patient.

And it's in that room that Martin comes across (not in that way, well not yet - she's a classy lady who would probably want dinner first) the lovely Barbara (the even lovelier Rampling - ask your granddad) - a young and with it woman with a dark secret....

Peter's stiffie.

You see (well you would be if you were watching) after being locked away in Shady-nook for the last year due to suffering from 'the mentalism', Barbara is traveling back to her family home alongside her sharp-suited brother George (Villiers from For Your Eyes Only and Crown Court amongst other classics).

 Although happy to be home she's not too enamored at the thought of having a nurse tell her what to do and when to go to bed and has no sooner sat on her bed than is planning her escape.

A plan that may or may not involve poisoned tea, multiple scissor stabbings, ladies in 70s style suits and split personalities....


Finding that he's in desperate need of the toilet, Martin makes his excuses ("You're talking bollocks hen!") and proceeds to the final room where his next patient, Doctor Byron (Pink Panther star and former Star Wars bounty hunter Lom) sits busying himself making slightly shady looking wind-up tin robots in which, he claims, he can capture peoples souls.

Starting with his own.....

Tunnel or funnel?

Will Dr Martin choose the right patient and get his dream job?

Will Byron end up marketing his tin toys to unsuspecting kids and start the Transformers range 15 years too early?

And will there be a spooky twist ending that begs the question 'who is the real mentalist?'

From those genre stalwarts at Amicus Films (and sometimes AARU Productions if the Daleks - or more importantly Joe Vegoda and his cash - were involved), the late great Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg comes another classically creepy portmanteau horror that is less about scares and shocks and more to do with being a Saturday night rite of passage for those of us (just) the wrong side of 50.

And let's be honest our appreciation of all things horror is much better because of them.

Between 1965 and 1974 the pair released a cornucopia of creep filmed classics including the sublime Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), the carnie-courting Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood, the original Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, From Beyond the Grave and Asylum cementing the companies reputation as the perfect pair for part-work horrors featuring the cream of British - and sometimes American - talent (oh yes and Robert Hutton).

And you can't get much bigger than casting the son of God in the headlining role can you?

OK so this is a pre-Jesus (but just post-Doomwatch) Robert Powell but he's still pretty good, as is the ever twitchy Patrick Magee who alongside  Geoffrey Bayldon make the wraparound story watchable for their performances alone.

The rest of the cast ain't too shady either with the likes of Barry Morse, Richard Todd and Herbert Lom, alongside the likes of Britt Ekland and Charlotte Rampling and the ever present Peter Cushing, seriously it's worth watching for them alone.
Sorry, can you tell I'm a fan?

Well it's either that or lockdown has mellowed mea wee bit.

What sets Asylum apart from the rest tho' is it's unrelenting bleakness and distinct lack of (intentional) comic book style humour that permeates thru' the majority of Amicus' output, Asylum, alongside Vault of Horror and From Beyond the Grave, are the companies attempts at 'serious' horror with nary a giggle on show.

Well except for Richard Todd's way too tight shirt obviously.

Oh yes and bits of a shop window dummy wrapped in brown paper 'menacing' Barbara Parkins.

And maybe the living mannequin.

And those pound shop soul robots.

Other than that it's fucking terrifying.


"Fiona! Look at me! I'm from Dudley!"

Written - like everything else Amicus released at the time by one-shock pony Robert (I wrote Psycho) Bloch at his pulpy best and with a score that utilities every loud piece of music Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ever composed, Asylum is a by the book (and damn near perfect) example of why when it came to anthology 'orror - Amicus were king.

Don't worry, I'll be back to slagging stuff off next time.

*This last bit is a lie, sorry.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

the entrance of uranus.

Due to severe flooding I couldn't get to work last night and for some unknown reason decided to rewatch this to cheer me up when I got home.

Well that was interesting wasn't it? 

The Red Monks (1988).
Dir: Gianni Martucci.
Cast: Gerardo Amato, Lara Wendel (meow), Malisa Longo, Chuck Valenti, Claudio Pacifico, Mary Maxwell, Gaetano Russo and Ludovico Della Jojo.

The Garlini family are one of those unlucky enough - but quite common according to Eurotrash cinema - to have some kinda curse that gets visited on generation after generation.

Unlike most movie curses which seem to involve Werewolves or hidden torture chambers the Garlini one appears to concern a violin playing old woman and a nude, turban headed lady with a predilection for jogging.

Takes all sorts I guess.
But enough scene-setting let's get on with the film good and proper and focus our attentions on a groovy young fella-my-lad about town (in a snazzy Burton's suit) has just noticed the aformentioned - naked - jogger running around his garden so decides to call out to her (as you would), being a typical woman she ignores his cries and heads into his house.


Following her indoors and down into the house's sprawling basement the nameless bloke finds this dusky beauty standing with her back to him giving him plenty of time to take in her curves whilst admiring her hairy back and ample arse.

But before you can say 'up the casino' the mysterious Miss slowly turns around and with sword in hand beheads the poor sod.


A lady reading a newspaper in an extremely natural way yesterday.

Worried that the confusion and strangeness of the scene may caused our tiny minds to explode a scary voiceover man suddenly breaks the silence and whilst sexily intoning "fifty years earlier" snaps us back to reality.

Which comes as a blessed relief for us mere mortals after experiencing so much terror so early in the proceedings.

Luckily we're still in the grounds of the house so it's not too much of a challenge to figure out what's happening plus we still have a hunky man in the garden, only this time he has a name.

And quite a sexy physique.

Ladies and gentlemen (especially ladies) please be upstanding for 'Big' Bob Garlini (Disperatamente Giulia's Amato) who whilst busily tending to the rose bushes comes across (not in that way) a foxy woman - dressed as a dinner lady for reasons only known to the director - stuck up a tree being barked at by his hairy dog.

Which in itself is a bit bizarre because the woman in question is played by Lara Wendel, who also gets snapped at by a big dog in Dario Argento's Tenebrae.

No idea if that's related tho'.


Wendel: In bed with me dinner (lady).

Being hunky and spunky Bob convinces Ramona (for that is her name) to jump out of the tree and into his manly arms just before the rubber joke shop spider that's glued to one of the branches 'bites' her.

As she falls into his arms their eyes meet and it's love at first sight.

Whirlwind romance and marriage follow, which would be all well and good if not for Bob's dark secret.

And you'll never guess what it is.

Tho' the clue is in the films title.

Yup, that's right, Bob has a cellar chock full of spooky red monks intent on having his new bride sacrificed to them within four days.

But that's not all because for the sacrifice to work she has to remain a virgin.

Now how's he gonna explain this to his nan?

As you would expect, this puts a wee bit of pressure on the poor guy on his wedding night, forcing him to leave Ramona lying spreadeagled on the bed with a look of saucy intent in her eyes whilst he paces around the garden in a housecoat.

Poor Ramona ends up spending the night propped up in bed reading Take A Break magazine whilst scoffing chocolates all the time wondering if she should have just jumped out the tree and let the dog have her.

Which, if I'm honest would probably have been quite an interesting scene.

From an artistic viewpoint obviously.

To make matters worse, the next morning Bob is called away to an 'important business meetings' leaving his grumpier by the minute bride sitting at home getting the piss taken out of her by the housekeeper Priscilla (genre goddess Longo from oooohhhh loads of stuff including your granddad's bed) - who it turns out is having an affair with her hubbie.

It's like a gore filled version of Dynasty.

Your mum gets ready for parents night. And you wondered why your grades were so good.

It's not all bad tho' for Ramona's blonde haired haired, poppy eyed maid Lucille (Maxwell from Dirty Love II: Love Games) quickly strikes up a friendship with her, entertaining the new Mrs. Garlini with tours of the scary cellar to check out the handy guillotine kept hidden in there.

Deciding that spending her evenings skulking about in dank cellars is way more fun than watching the shopping channel whilst eating crisps, Ramona begins to enjoy her time searching the basement for goodies to sell at carboot sales so it's not too much of a surprise when one day after moving a particularly dusty commode that she finally comes across the red monks busily (and quite quietly) going about their basement based business.

Which would be freaky enough if she didn't suddenly wake up in bed half way thru' the chat.

Is she going mental?

Well her hubbie and housekeeper seem set on trying to convince her so.

Me? I just think she's a typical woman.


Lucille, being cool and full of girl power and sisterly love is having none of it tho' and tells Ramona that she did indeed go into the cellar that evening and that she isn't in fact going loopy after all.

Phew, that's OK then.

Luckily everything seems to be back to normal the next day - well, if you forget about the monks, the plot to send Ramona mad and think that the fact that her hubbie keeps eying up the housemaid is normal - so our lovebirds decide to enjoy a picnic in the garden, this romantic notion is oh so slightly spoiled however when Lucille's severed head pops out of the picnic hamper during the cheese selection.

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, Ramona reckons a wee bit of painting may calm her nerves, but would you credit it, that darned spider is back on the loose.

Wendel: Womanly perfection personified.

As if by magic (or perhaps because Wendel hasn't got her kit off yet) the arachnid attack is rudely interrupted by an unhealthily thin bloke with a stringy ponytail who gingerly swats the spider to one side before having some of 'the sex' with our heroine.

Fairly annoyed to begin with (he keeps dipping his cock in her watercolours) Ramona finally gets into the groove as the youngsters say, hoisting up her dress and and going with the - sweetly sticky - flow.

I say flow but it's more of a sticky, gooey mess if I'm honest.

After a few minutes (I'm being kind) of fiddly fun the mysterious stranger wipes his cock on Ramona's canvas and stands up. Not to be outdone in the romantic stakes our horny heroine quickly pops her pants in her pocket before arranging to meet the leathery Lothario for drinks in a local bar later that night.


Day soon turns to night and Ramona excitedly travels to the local pub for a pint, a plate of scampi and some excited chat.

But our horny hairy-man has a surprise for Ramona and after a few bags of pork scratchings and a bottle of house wine takes her to visit a stinky tramp with a comedy stick on beard.

But why? I hear you cry.

Well it appears that only he knows the full gory story of her hubbies house.

As Friends star Jennifer Aniston once said, pay attention, here's the science part.

Aniston: Five fingers, never touched the sides.

Coughing up a tasty bit of black lung the old man seductively whispers thru' his fishy beard " all began in the year 1426..." prompting the screen to go all wibbly wobbly (tracking's dodgy mate) before coming to focus on a pointy chinned man in tights drinking cheap wine.

Lord Lloyd Lodorisio (for that is he), being rich and bored spends his days hanging around with that group of red hooded monks from earlier getting into all kinds of scrapes, setting fire to phone boxes, making prank calls, graffiti-ing walls and the like much to the chagrin of the local populace.

Fair play to him I say.

The local church, understandably annoyed by all these unholy shenanigans decide to send a mysterious, black masked assassin to kill Lodorisio.

As you would in those circumstances.

"Is it in yet?"

After a - very slow - primary school style sword fight, the assassin ends up with the Lord's long blade wobbling scarily at his mouth (OK it's at his throat but that doesn't sound as rude), dropping to his knees and begs for mercy whilst the loopy Lorde stands astride him laughing like a loon.

Just as all seems lost Mr. Assassin sees his chance and sticks Lodorisio with his poisoned ring before tossing him off (the balcony) and hitting him repeatedly with a mace for good measure.


As was the law in the olden days, the assassin inherits not only Lord Lodorisio's lands but his sultry gypsy wife too, unfortunately tho' before he can drag her off to the bedroom she lays down a curse on him - and his descendants - forever.


If this wasn't a big enough revelation in itself (it's like 20 Christmas day episodes of EastEnders at once) it turns out that Ramona is apparently a descendant of that very same gypsy and it is her destiny to have revenge on Bob.

Taking it all in her stride (but not alas up the Khyber) she buys a sword from a local armorer and heads back home....

Bob in a monk house yesterday.

Will she behead her hubbie?

Will the fabled red monks do anything but stand about?

Who beheaded Lucille?

Is Ramona a ghost?

And why is Bob shagging the housekeeper when the cast includes both Wendel and Longo?

Is he mad?

One of these questions may be answered by the movies end.


"I Frati Rossi? All talkin' Scotch ain't they?"

From director/writer Gianni (Naked Girl Killed in the Park) Martucci comes this (very) loose remake of the Mario Bava classic Lisa And The Devil but minus that films suspense shocks and thrills obviously.

Well he had to find some way of making it different didn't he?

Longo: saucepot.

Produced by genre genius Lucio Fulci (whom I'm sure had a hand in casting showing the pedigree of the Eurohorror talent on screen) alongside an obviously feverish Pino Buricchi (the man who gave us Intimate Crimes and Cindy's Love Games amongst other gems), The Red Monks maybe be at times tedious with plot holes so big that you could comfortably reverse Dominic Cummings thru' without touching the sides but the classy cast and kooky creepiness ultimately win the viewer over.

Plus whenever you're feeling like ending it all rather than sit thru' another second of dodgily dubbed doomsaying, a pair of 70's breasts pop out of nowhere or a head rolls out of a hamper and suddenly you're transfixed again.

And before you know it you're hooked worse than your uncle Peter on the paperboy.